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Rory Reynolds

German P.O.W. Camps

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Rory Reynolds

My Grandfather, John Joseph Reynolds saw action in France where he was also taken prisoner. I have tried to glean more info about the various P.O.W. camps where he was found but have come up pretty much empty handed. Can anyone assist or point me in the right direction please? The camps were as follows (as far as I could make out from his service record):

Detained at Reserve Lazerett Hammerstein

According to the original Kriegsgefangenensendung cards on hand, Private Reynolds received food parcels from the South African Comforts Committee c/o Central Prisoners of War Committee, 4 Thurloe Place, London. Two of these were date stamped “Schneidmuhl 3.10.1918” and had been forwarded on from Czersk. The parcels were no.126 stamped 26 July 1918 and no. 129 stamped 16 August 1918. Private Reynolds answered “yes” to having received parcels regularly, confirmed that they were in good condition but answered “no” to “Do you receive your bread regularly?”

Removed to Kriegs Gef. Laz. Bars Largerstein”, Czersk, West Prussia

Removed to Gef.Lag. Schneidmuhl

Regards

Rory

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jdwn1

Hi Rory

I can recommend a German book I have called The Prisoners of War in Germany This was printed in Leipzig Germany in 1915 as a counter to any allied propaganda regarding the treatment of their POW's and as such show very favourable conditions. The book therefore has to be seen in that context particulary as the 250 photographs in the book show German POW camps early in the war. The conditions the POW's would have had to suffer later in the war and especially with the shortages of 1918 would have been totally different.

As well as photos the text which is written in English details conditions, housing etc. and even a sample menu of a weeks rations each POW could expect dated August 1915 !!!.

Here are a couple of photos from the book showing English prisoners in Schneidemuhl camp where your Grandfather was for a time incarcerated for the duration.

Ian

post-10319-1173017569.jpg

post-10319-1173017508.jpg

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owilki1984

Hi,

Mrs Pope Hennessy’s contemporary guide to the First World War POW camps has the following info on your camps:

Schneidemuehl – Pop 26,100. An important railway junction. The camp is placed three miles from the city on the higher ground. It is situated on sandy soil surrounded by woods. Capacity 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners. The centre of many working camps. Barracks are of the earth variety. 2nd Army Corps.

Hammerstein – A small town near Neu Stettin in West Prussia. The centre of many working commandos. 7th Army Corps

Czersk – Small town on the Danzig-Schneidemuhl Railway in West Prussia. A camp for Russians, to which British prisoners have recently been sent[c.1916]. 17th Army Corps.

I would think that Schneidemuhl would be the parent camp to Czersk and that is why the parcels went through the former to get to the latter.

Additionally as your grandfather was in POW camp so far east he would have been repatriated through the Baltics ports (probably Danzig) and would have arrived in Scotland (Leith), possible stopping in Denmark on the way. DO you know any details?

Ian the book you have sounds like a gem. Where did you get it? Would you be able to have a look through and see if you have anything on Crossen/Krossen, and post the result.

Cheers

Oli

PS: Check out the POW section of the forum, you might find some interesting tips/info

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bob lembke
Detained at Reserve Lazerett Hammerstein

Lazarett means "military hospital". I do not know lots about how German hospitals were organized, but I am sure, like everything else about the German armies of the period, it was complex. My father was in many of them, and some were called "Reserve Lazarett". You can see that they also were organized by the army corps district, which was a very important administrative sub-division in many matters. It is quite possible that there were hospitals organized for or by the reserve formations within the army corps districts. If your grand-father had a serious problem, he might have been put in the nearest German military hospital.

Removed to Kriegs Gef. Laz. Bars Largerstein”, Czersk, West Prussia

Kriegs Gef. Laz. = Kriegs Gefangenen=Lazarett = War Prisoner Military Hospital.

Removed to Gef.Lag. Schneidmuhl

"Gef. Lag." = Gefangenen=Lager = "prisoner camp"

Regards

Rory

I don't know if you knew these things; hope it is useful. Sounds like your grand-father had a serious would or condition but got better over time.

Bob Lembke

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Rory Reynolds

This has been a great help thanks Bob.

As far as Grandfathers wound goes this makes sense as there is an entry on his discharge papers indicating that he was shot through the neck.

Regards

Rory

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bob lembke
This has been a great help thanks Bob.

As far as Grandfathers wound goes this makes sense as there is an entry on his discharge papers indicating that he was shot through the neck.

Regards

Rory

Yes, all adds up. A prisoners' hospital would not be prepared for complex heavy trauma, but more illness, accidental injuries, perhaps dental, etc. A shot thru the neck must be in almost every case a serious and complicated wound. So He was put in a standard military first, to treat the wound, and probably operate; when better, into a prisoner hospital for recuperation, and then into the general prisoner population. German wounded were moved out of hospitals to recuperation facilities and even special recuperation units as they got better.

I have seen memoirs by Brit wounded prisoners who made no secret of their feelings about the Germans but clearly praised the medical care they got. I would imagine that the UK medicine was also fairly good.The French medical care of their own soldiers was usually dismal; this is born out by the overall mortality figures for the war, which include sky-high death rates from gangrene in French facilities, indicating poor medical care.

Bob Lembke

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Rory Reynolds

Vielen dank Bob und Friedhelm - Ich konnte ein bischen Deutsch sprechen aber die meiste daarvon habe ich schon vergessen!

This certainly gives context to what is developing into a fascinating war story - one which my Muti knew very little about.

Auf wiedersehen

Rory

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Tom A McCluskey

Ian,

No offence :) , but the last piece of literature I would trust when deciding whether conditions in a German Prisoner of War camp were favourable, would be a 1915 piece of German literature. Personally, I think the best place to find evidence of conditions is from the prisoners themselves. There are plenty of these in the miscellaneous papers in the National Archives (WO/161)

Use this link:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/search/quick_search.aspx

Then in the QUICK SEARCH KEYWORDS, enter the following text:

WO/161 prisoner of war

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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Rory Reynolds

Hi Oli

Interesting comment around how grandad would have returned to England post P.O.W. Camp. I've checked his record and the only reference to it is "Arrived in England from Germany 30/11/18"

There is, unfortunately no reference to which route was taken to get him there. You are probably spot on about but I don't know of any way to find this out - there is an order numbe attached to the entry but... there you have it.

Thanks again

Rory

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Rory Reynolds

Hi Oli

Please "ignore" previous post about how my grandad was repatriated. I have, with the aid of a magnifying glass, found a reference as follows:

"1.12.1918 - Repatriated - arrived at Leith per S.S. R.....(Can't make it out)"

Does coming back via this route have any special significance?

Please advise

Regards

Rory

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owilki1984
Hi Oli

Please "ignore" previous post about how my grandad was repatriated. I have, with the aid of a magnifying glass, found a reference as follows:

"1.12.1918 - Repatriated - arrived at Leith per S.S. R.....(Can't make it out)"

Does coming back via this route have any special significance?

Please advise

Regards

Rory

Hi,

No it doesn’t have any major significance it just allows you to get a full picture of your grandfather’s story. The majority of POWs in the Eastern camps would be repatriated via the Baltic ports and would arrive in Leith, many stopping in Denmark on the way.

All this was co-ordinated by the British Charge d’Affairs at Copenhagen, Lord Kilmarnock.

The S.S R... that you cant make out would be the ship he returned on. If you have been able to decipher this with further study I would be very interested to know what ship it was.

An interesting thing you might like to follow up is a video held at the Imperial War Museum, which shows returning POWs landing in Leith. I believe it is from December 1918, so around the right time for you. My great grandfather also landed in Leith in December 1918 but a bit later than your relative. I have yet to view this video, but if can get to London I am sure it would be worth a look.

Indecently, following arrival at Leith most men went to the Reception camp at Ripon, after which they were allowed to return home. You obviously have some good information on your grandfather so you might already know what happened to him in this ‘leg’ of his journey.

Regards,

Oli

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DavidMillichope

I think the ship you mention is the SS Rues, a Danish Red Cross ship. ( deciphered from a hand written diary)

The diary is of a man I'm researching - L/Cpl William Brown 5th DLI ( captured 27th May on the Aisne) , who was repatriated through Danzig to Leith in Dec 1918.

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owilki1984
I think the ship you mention is the SS Rues, a Danish Red Cross ship. ( deciphered from a hand written diary)

The diary is of a man I'm researching - L/Cpl William Brown 5th DLI ( captured 27th May on the Aisne) , who was repatriated through Danzig to Leith in Dec 1918.

Hi,

How far have you got with your research on Brown? I would be really interested in finding out his story as my Great Grandfather was also captured on the 27th May 1918 on the Aisne. He was a KOYLI, but the DLI were very close by. If you can post any details I would be very interested (and I am sure other would be too)

Additionally I am interested in the expereince of Brigadier_General Rees who was also taken prisoner on the 27th May. If you come across anything on him would you be so kind as to forward it on. :)

Also if you check out the POW section of the forum you will be sure to find some stuff that will help!

Regards

Oli

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jamesday

I believe the ship was the SS Russ. A New Zealand newspaper article mentions it. Written by a DLI officer who had been in Kamstigall -bei-Pillau Officers POW camp. Left there by train on 8th Dec, arriving Danzig on 9th, set sail 10th, Leith on 13th. 500 officers and 1200 tommies on board. Does your diary talk about the voyage from Danzig at all?

James

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